Foster kids would leave for school, detour to brothel


Foster kids would leave for school, detour to brothel

The teenage foster kids called their rendezvous with men who paid for their affections “dates.” Sometimes they had several scheduled each day.

Their alleged handler, whom they called “E-Nasty,” or just “E,” would text the girls on the cell phones he provided them. “You’re gonna have some dates today,” he would say, a source told The Miami Herald.

On days where the girls had a hectic schedule, they’d be driven to school in the morning, but fail to enter. Instead, the teens would call or text their pimps to pick them up. “It was a perfect cover,” the source said. “People thought they were going to school.”

E-Nasty, police and prosecutors say, is 29-year-old Eric George Earle, the head of a group of pimps who preyed on teenage girls in foster care.

“He was the ringleader of this organization,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle, “the one who befriended the girls.”

Police and prosecutors say Earle — together with his stepbrother, Anturrel Nathaniel Dean, and two other men — operated a prostitution ring that employed foster children as sex workers. A teenager identified only as S.S. worked for the ring as a prostitute, and “recruited” other girls from her group home to work for the ring.

Earle; Dean, 30; 34-year-old David Zarifi and 65-year-old Willie Calvin Bivins were arrested early Monday. They face charges of racketeering, conspiracy and unlawful sex with underage girls.

At a Tuesday afternoon news conference, Fernández Rundle said the busted ring was part of an ongoing investigation into “predators” who lure vulnerable children into becoming sex workers. Already, the investigation had spawned 50 subpoenas and eight search warrants.

Fernández Rundle gave the girls’ customers a warning: “Watch out,” she said. “We’re coming to get you.”

“Make no doubt about it: these are businesses operating just below the surface in our community,” Fernández Rundle said. “You know what? They’re not operating any longer.”

Also caught up in the investigation, though not involved with the ring Earle allegedly operated, was a Department of Children & Families child abuse investigator, 46-year-old Jean LaCroix, records show.

DCF administrators placed LaCroix on paid administrative leave and seized his government-issued cell phone after one of the girls involved in the ring, identified as M.D., told police she also had maintained a lengthy sexual relationship with LaCroix, who investigated her case when she was placed in foster care, records show.

“The victim advised that while in school she would call or text [LaCroix] and [he] would arrange to pick her up from school and take her to his residence where they would engage in consensual sexual intercourse,” a May search warrant request says.

LaCroix became involved with M.D in September 2011, DCF Regional Administrator Esther Jacobo told the Miami-Dade Police Department. His DCF cell phone showed “considerable phone communication between [LaCroix] and the victim’s cellular phones for several months after October 2011,” records say.

Even after his bosses at DCF took away his cell phone, LaCroix continued to call the teenage foster child with his personal phone, police said in a May search warrant obtained by The Miami Herald.

In an email to The Herald, DCF Secretary David Wilkins called LaCroix’s behavior “absolutely appalling,” adding the investigator’s actions “betray the trust and confidence that all Floridians have in our department’s employees. Mr. LaCroix’s actions in no way reflect the expectations we and all Floridians have for our investigators or any of our employees,” Wilkins added.

“As soon as we learned of these allegations earlier this year, the department immediately placed Mr. Lacroix on administrative leave with no access to department records, offices or files,” Wilkins said. “Additionally, the department began working with Miami-Dade police and the State Attorney’s Office in the investigation of Mr. Lacroix. We will continue to work with them to ensure that any prosecutions related to these allegations are pursued to their fullest extent.”

As for the alleged prostitution ring that preyed on foster children, Wilkins said “these crimes violate every moral belief we share at the department and as Floridians. Children deserve the opportunity to survive and thrive with our help and to overcome the circumstances which placed them in our care.”

M.D. lived in a six-person group home that is operated by Children’s Home Society of Florida, a private foster care agency under contract with another private agency, called Our Kids, that oversees child welfare in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. Fernández Rundle said about four girls from the home were working for the ring, and records suggest three of them were recruited by S.S., a resident herself.

Fernández Rundle said ring members groomed the girls with cash, flowers and other gifts, and were sophisticated in their efforts to woo the youths. All of the girls had previously suffered abuse or neglect, or had been abandoned by their parents. They were starved for affection, and delighted that an adult was showing interest in them — and showering them with gifts.

Jacobo, who also spoke at the news conference, called ring members “professional predators” who “knew exactly which children to target.” DCF is eager, she said, to help police in their effort to “put people behind bars” for trafficking in underage girls.

When asked whether Children’s Home Society foster care workers had failed to properly supervise teens at the group home, Jacobo said it is against state law to lock up foster children who are not accused of committing crimes.

And David Bundy, CHS’s statewide president, described the trafficking in children as “bigger than group homes [and] bigger than foster care.”

It was a CHS employee, both Bundy and Fernández Rundle said, who alerted police to the girls’ plight after she overheard a conversation between two group home residents concerning money and sex.

“We do not knowingly allow our girls to leave our home with anyone who’s not authorized for one-on-one visitation, by virtue of their position or relationship and after required background screening,” Bundy told The Herald. “In reality, these and other vulnerable girls are targeted by predators during the course of their normal daily activities. Like other kids, they go to school, enjoy after-school and social activities and, like other kids and parents, they are not observed by us 24/7.”

“Wherever they are, predators find them and entice them with attention, cash and gifts.” Bundy added. “The problem is the criminals, which is why we’ve been working with law enforcement and our partners to bring them down.”

DCF Case Worker Investigated For Sexual Misconduct With Foster Child


DCF Case Worker Investigated For Sexual Misconduct With Foster Child

MIAMI (CBS4) – An investigator with the Department of Child and Families has been placed on administrative leave after being accused of sexual misconduct with a foster child.

The child protection agency is now helping Miami-Dade Police investigate Jean Lacroix 46, one day after he was allegedly linked to a teenager believed to have been involved with a child prostitution ring.

Four men accused of running the ring were arrested earlier this week. CBS4 has now obtained a copy of a search warrant issued for Lacroix’s work-issued cell phone. The warrant allows police officers to access Lacroix’s call history, text messages and any other communication he may have had with the alleged victim using that phone.

The warrant was issued in May. It indicates a 17-year-old girl in foster care admitted to Miami-Dade Police that she engaged in consensual sexual intercourse on numerous occasions with her DCF case worker, Jean Lacroix.

It further stated the alleged victim said she called and sent text messages to Lacroix and that he would arrange to pick her up from school, take her to his residence, where they allegedly had consensual sex.

“He was an excellent man, an excellent man,” said Lacroix’s Friend Jean Clayvil. “I don’t believe it.”

Clayvil says he tried calling Lacroix on his DCF cell phone a couple of weeks ago, but wasn’t able to speak with him until he saw him at their church.

“I said ‘I called you’, and he told me he doesn’t have this phone number no more. He told me the company doesn’t want him to use the phone anymore.” Clayvil said Lacroix didn’t offer an explanation as to why.

According to the search warrant, Lacroix’s case work involving the alleged victim began in September of 2011 and ended in October, but indicated the two stayed in touch on his personal cell phone after he was instructed not to by his supervisor.

Lacroix was placed on administrative leave in May. DCF Secretary David E. Wilkins has since released this statement:

This alleged behavior is absolutely appalling and betrays the trust and confidence that all Floridians have in our Department’s employees. Mr. Lacroix’s actions in no way reflect the expectations we and all Floridians have for our investigators or any of our employees.




Staten Island man accused of abusing six young girls in a relative's foster home


Stay positive: “Goodness is a special kind of truth and beauty. It is truth and beauty in human behavior.” -- H. A. Overstreet

 

Staten Island man accused of abusing six young girls in a relative's foster home

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2012, 3:37 PM Updated: Friday, June 22, 2012, 1:23 AM

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Authorities say they've found three more young girls who allegedly were sexually abused by a West Brighton man while they were being cared for in his relative's foster home and day-care center.

Deveraler Lovelle Mark Jr., 23, was originally charged last month with preying upon three girls living in the West Brighton foster home and day-care center run by a female relation.

That tally, however, has grown to six victims based on an initial probe, said a law enforcement source. Authorities fear there may be more.

"We believe he also preyed on others," said the source, adding the investigation is continuing.

The source said the victims primarily ranged in age from 6 to 10 years old, although one was 14.

Mark was living for a time at the relative's home when he allegedly abused the girls, said the source.

A 19-count indictment unsealed Wednesday in state Supreme Court, St. George, accuses Mark of a slew of sexually-related charges. If convicted of the most serious, predatory sexual assault and predatory sexual assault against a child, Mark could land behind bars for life.

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According to court papers, most of the alleged incidents occurred between August 2009 and October 2010. However, the earliest alleged crimes date to September 2003, and some others took place between October 2007 and October 2009, said court documents.

The female relative ran a day-care center, in addition to caring for foster children, the source said.

The abuse came to light when one of the victims eventually spoke up to an adult, possibly a teacher, said the source. That spurred a police investigation, the source said, adding that another girl witnessed the abuse.

Mark also made incriminating statements, the source said.

Mark pleaded not guilty at his arraignment to five counts of predatory sexual assault against a child; four counts each of course of sexual conduct against a child and endangering a child's welfare; two counts each of rape and criminal sexual act -- formerly classified as sodomy -- and one count each of sexual abuse and predatory sexual assault.

He was remanded to jail and ordered back to court on July 16, said a spokesman for District Attorney Daniel Donovan.

His lawyer could not immediately be reached today for comment.

Prosecutors ask anyone with information related to the case to call Donovan's office at 718-876-6300.





For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  Matthew 25:35-40




Akron foster home operator gets life for molesting boys in his care


Stay positive:  “Students gain lasting self-confidence not by being protected from
failure but by learning they can survive it.”  Tony Wagner



Akron foster home operator gets life for molesting boys in his care

AKRON, Ohio -- A 65-year-old Akron man was sentenced to life in prison for sexually molesting five boys living in his home in foster care.

Summit County Common Pleas Judge Tammy O'Brien sentenced Roger Ball, of Holly Avenue in Akron, to the life sentence, the maximum sentence allowed. He will be eligible for parole after serving 35 years.

Prosecutors said from 2007 until 2010, Ball sexually molested the five boys, who ranged in age at the time from five to 11.

"This was a truly horrific crime in which someone took advantage of his position and sexually abused young boys in his care -- boys who were already dealing with a multitude of issues," said Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh. "I am very pleased that the judge ordered such a lengthy sentence that this defendant cannot apply for parole unless he lives to be at least 100."

On May 8, a jury found Ball guilty of rape, sexual battery and five counts of gross sexual imposition, felonies of the third degree.

Officials said Ball was a foster parent for many years before this abuse was discovered.

Anyone who believes their son may have been victimized by Ball should contact the Akron Police Department at (330) 375-2552.





For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  Matthew 25:35-40




4 charged with running foster child prostitution ring


STAY POSITIVE:  “Nature does not bestow virtue; to be good is an art.” Seneca
 



4 charged with running foster child prostitution ring

By Carol Marbin Miller The Miami Herald


Carol Marbin Miller


Police and prosecutors arrested four alleged pimps Monday morning as part of an ongoing investigation into a ring of human traffickers who preyed on abused and neglected children in foster care.

The men, police say, were part of an organized conspiracy to lure underage girls into prostitution. The four were charged with conspiracy, racketeering and unlawful sexual activity with a minor.

Using a teenage foster child as a recruiter, police say, the four men plied underage girls with cash, affection and gifts. Ultimately, the girls became prostitutes who earned the ring about $100 for every man with whom they had sex. The girls, in turn, were paid $30 or $40 of that original $100.

Beginning in January of 2011, members of the ring would call girls on cell phones supplied by the men and arrange for them to have sex at a building in Homestead that the ring used as a kind of brothel, records say.

Charged Monday were Eric George Earle, 29, called “E-Nasty,” Willie Calvin Bivens, 65, called “Tank,” Anturrell Nathaniel Dean, 30, and David Zarifi, 34. A fifth person — a 17-year-old foster child who is identified only by the initials S.S. — is listed in a 13-page sworn statement as a “recruiter” for the ring, though she is not charged with any crimes. As of late Monday, the four men remained in jail: Zarifi on $53,000 bail, Earle on $60,000 bail, Bivens on $35,505 bail, and Dean on $45,000.

The human trafficking investigation also involves a now-suspended child abuse investigator for the agency that oversees child welfare efforts in Florida. Jean LaCroix, a child protective investigator employed by the Department of Children & Families, was placed on paid administrative leave while police and prosecutors investigate allegations he repeatedly had sex with a teenaged foster child whose safety he was assigned to protect.

Sources have told The Miami Herald that LaCroix placed the girl at a group home for dependent children — and turn returned to the home repeatedly to pick the girl up for sexual favors. The girl, sources say, also was working for members of the ring who were arrested Monday.

LaCroix had spearheaded a 2006 child abuse investigation — prompted by a call from worried teachers and administrators — into the welfare of Nubia Barahona, a twin who was adopted from foster care and was killed in 2011, police say by her own adoptive parents, Carmen and Jorge Barahona. LaCroix was named in a lawsuit alleging DCF failed repeatedly to protect Nubia, and her brother, Victor, whom police say also endured years of torment.

LaCroix has not been charged with any crimes.

The investigation began in December 2011 when a foster child disclosed that she had been having consensual sex with a man.

The 17-year-old, identified as M.D., allowed police to search her cellphone. It contained images of the girl both naked and having sex with Zarifi, a sworn statement says. M.D., police say, suffers from cognitive impairments.

M.D. told police that, soon after she went sent to live in a state-operated group home in September 2011, she was recruited by a housemate, S.S., who told her “she could make money by having sex with men,” a warrant states. At first, she was introduced to a man she then knew only as “E-Nasty.” But Earle introduced her to Zarifi, whom she told police was “nice to her.” M.D. liked Zarifi so much that she had sex with him for free after being paid four times.

Eventually, M.D. agreed to have sex with other men, the warrant says. Either Earle or Zarifi would call her on her cellphone, and arrange to pick her up either at school or at her group home. From there, M.D. would be driven to a home operated by Bivens, where she would be paid $40 to have sex with men, the warrant says.

M.D. also had sex with Zarifi in a room at Bivens’ house, the warrant says.

A review of text messages on M.D.’s phone by police recovered several messages from Earle involving johns, including a message that “somebody wanna pay u to [have sex].”

Another resident of the group home, which was operated by Children’s Home Society, told police that she, too, had been recruited into prostitution by S.S. and Earle. The girl, identified only as C.W., said that Earle gave her clothes – at first without asking for sex in return. Later, C.W. had sex with Earle, who then coaxed her into having sex with Bivens, as well, “as a kind of trial run,” the warrant states.

Shortly after that, police say, Earle asked C.W. to meet with his brother, Dean, who had recently been released from jail. Dean gave the girl cash without requiring that she have sex, the warrant says. But by March 2011, C.W. was prostituting herself for Dean. The arrangement lasted until the following August, the warrant says, and then briefly a month later. C.W. told police that Dean charged johns $100 to have sex with the girl. He paid her $30.

Another foster child who lived at the group home, identified as J.D., told police that Earle tried to recruit her, as well, to work for him as a prostitute. “She states that ‘E’ knew that they were minors at the time he recruited them,” the warrant says.

Though child welfare administrators typically try to place foster children in homes with foster parents, some children prove to be more challenging. Older children with developments disabilities, mental illness or behavioral problems end up in group homes, rather than with foster families, because it’s hard to find families willing to take them.

The ease with which ring members had access to the girls showed the “extreme lack of supervision of these girls, said Carole Schauffer, a children’s advocate who is working with DCF to recruit foster parents and improve the quality of foster parenting. “Nobody is looking at them as a parent would,” Schauffer said


For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  Matthew 25:35-40






Attorney files $4.75 million lawsuit against state on behalf of 11-year-old boy whose Lane County foster parents broke his bones, burned him


Stay positive: The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow, but the rainbow won't wait while you finish the work.-- Pat Clifford
 



Attorney files $4.75 million lawsuit against state on behalf of 11-year-old boy whose Lane County foster parents broke his bones, burned him

An attorney representing an 11-year-old boy whose Lane County adoptive parents were sent to prison for horrific abuse that hospitalized him for a month is suing the Oregon Department of Human Services for $4.75 million.

Portland attorney David Paul filed the suit Friday in Multnomah County Circuit Court on behalf of the boy, identified by his initials, R.H. According to the suit and investigative reports, the boy suffered a broken pelvis and ribs, was burned badly on his foot and chest, force-fed infant formula, required to sleep in a bathtub and thrown repeatedly in a creek and hosed down. The boy also was forced to stand outside while the other children in the home ate meals — including Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners — or snacked on popcorn and soda during “family nights.”

Alona and Rodger Hartwig had six biological children and four foster children. Some were abused, but Paul said they saved the worst of their abuse for the boy.

“Nobody was treated like this one kid,” Paul said. “They just heaped it on him.”

DHS certified the Hartwigs as foster parents in 2003. From 2003 to 2009, DHS received at least nine reports of child abuse or neglect in the Hartwig home, but child-protective workers failed to step in to protect the boy or other children, the suit alleges. For example, in 2004, DHS received a report of a 3-year-old foster child who was losing weight, had a black eye, scrapes and sores all over his body, shoes that were too small and blood blisters on his feet.

R.H. moved in the following year -- in 2005 -- and eventually was adopted by the Hartwigs, with DHS's approval.

The boys suffering came to light in 2010, after someone called the Lane County Sheriff’s Office, and deputies discovered the boy with broken bones and a bad infection from untreated burns. He ended up spending a month at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland.

In a DHS review into what went wrong, DHS acknowledged that repeated reports of possible abuse or neglect at the Hartwig home weren't adequately investigated or considered as child-welfare workers re-certified the Hartwigs as foster parents and allowed them to adopt. The review suggested ways to prevent such abuse.

In an email Monday, DHS spokesman Gene Evans said protecting children is his department's highest priority.

"Any abuse or neglect of a child in foster care is unacceptable," Evans wrote.

Evans said DHS has improved its screening and investigation of reports of abuse and neglect. It also has instituted "more comprehensive background checks of foster parents before they are ever certified to care for a child." DHS officials note that the reported number of children who are abused or neglected while in foster care has been declining, dropping from one in 100 in 2007, to one in 200 in 2010, the latest figures available.

R.H., who is now 11, is still in the foster-care system. The suit describes his physical and psychological injuries as "permanent and progressive." The suit seeks $250,000 for medical bills and counseling, $1.5 million for loss of earning capacity over his lifetime and $3 million for pain and suffering. The boy is "severely traumatized" and unable to form close relationships, the suit states.

The suit doesn't seek compensation from the Hartwigs, who likely have little means to pay. Alona Hartwig, 48, pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and criminal mistreatment, and is serving a nearly 11-year prison term. Rodger Eugene Hartwig Jr., 53, pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and was sentenced to nearly six years in prison.


‘They Just Heaped It on Him,’ Says Attorney of Foster Parents Who Abused Boy


Stay positive:  Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody.-- Longfellow


‘They Just Heaped It on Him,’ Says Attorney of Foster Parents Who Abused Boy

The hard part was supposed to be over for R.H., a young boy in Oregon’s child welfare system, when he was adopted by foster parents Alona and Roger Hartwig. However the Department of Human Services (DHS) repeatedly failed to protect him and other children from the Hartwig’s horrific abuse, according to a suit filed on behalf of the boy. The Oregonian reports:

DHS certified the Hartwigs as foster parents in 2003. From 2003 to 2009, DHS received at least nine reports of child abuse or neglect in the Hartwig home, but child-protective workers failed to step in to protect the boy or other children, the suit alleges. For example, in 2004, DHS received a report of a 3-year-old foster child who was losing weight, had a black eye, scrapes and sores all over his body, shoes that were too small and blood blisters on his feet.

The suit and investigative reports detail R.H.’s suffering, which included a broken pelvis and ribs, severe burns, and being forced to stand outside while the family ate meals. He spent five years in the Hartwig’s home before finally being rescued:

The boys suffering came to light in 2010, after someone called the Lane County Sheriff’s Office, and deputies discovered the boy with broken bones and a bad infection from untreated burns.

Alona and Rodger Hartwig had six biological children and four foster children. Some were abused, but Paul said they saved the worst of their abuse for the boy.

“Nobody was treated like this one kid,” [R.H.'s Attorney David] Paul said. “They just heaped it on him.”

While DHS says that the number of children abused or neglected in foster care has declined significantly–dropping from one in 100 in 2007 to one in 200 in 2010–they admit that this particular case was mishandled:

DHS acknowledged that repeated reports of possible abuse or neglect at the Hartwig home weren’t adequately investigated or considered as child-welfare workers re-certified the Hartwigs as foster parents and allowed them to adopt.

The Hartwigs both pleaded guilty in court and are currently serving lengthy jail sentences. However, the abuse is still taking a toll, according to the suit:

R.H., who is now 11, is still in the foster-care system. The suit describes his physical and psychological injuries as “permanent and progressive.” The suit seeks $250,000 for medical bills and counseling, $1.5 million for loss of earning capacity over his lifetime and $3 million for pain and suffering. The boy is “severely traumatized” and unable to form close relationships, the suit states.


Abused Children of Evangelical Couple Make Harrowing Claims




Stay positive:  Live your life each day as you would climb a mountain. An occasional glance towards the summit keeps the goal in mind, but many beautiful scenes are to be observed from each new vantage point. -- Harold B. Melchart


Abused Children of Evangelical Couple Make Harrowing Claims

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A federal judge will hear claims that church and public officials did nothing to stop years of torture and sexual abuse suffered by the six natural and foster children of Zion and Glenda Lea Dutro.

Zion Dutro accepted a plea deal to avoid trial and was sentenced to 300 years in prison in April 2011. Glenda Lea Dutro pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 15 years for her role in the abuse.

The Dutros' four biological daughters and three foster children, all of whom are now adult women, say the physical and sexual abuse began in 1982 and continued until 2003. But they say the Dutros continued to abuse them psychologically, physically and verbally until their arrest in 2008.

The women filed their original complaint anonymously in Contra Costa County Superior Court on Dec. 7, 2011, and then named themselves and the defendants in an amended complaint last month. The defendants removed the case to U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Friday.

Martha McKnelly, Sara Dutro, Amber Dutro and Glenda Stripes say there are the Dutros' biological daughters. They filed suit alongside their foster sisters, Frances Smith and Christina Moore against Contra Costa County, the city of Antioch and the Calvary Open Bible Church.

Jack Rogers and Tom Potts with Contra County Child Protective Services; Antioch police officers Art Acosta and William Dee; and Calvary pastors Mark Wood and Anthony Lee are also named as defendants.

"Plaintiffs were psychologically and physically tortured over the course of more than two decades," the 22-page complaint states. "Collectively, they were raped and otherwise sexually abused over a thousand times since they were toddlers. They lived in abject fear of their parents. Zion Dutro sexually abused one or more of the plaintiffs on an almost daily basis for approximately 20 years. Plaintiffs were at times deprived of food and water and use of a bathroom. They were beaten with sticks and belts. They were punched and kicked. They were also forcibly sodomized as punishment."

The abuse allegations open with the placement of Smith and Moore as foster children with the Dutros in 1986, when the girls were ages 3 and 18 months old, respectively.

"After they came to live with [the Dutros], they were sexually abused by Zion Dutro and physically and emotionally abused by Zion Dutro and Glenda Lea Dutro," the complaint states.

Contra Costa County and its employees were responsible for the supervision of the girls, should have ensured that they were not being harmed by their foster parents, and could have moved them from the Dutro home if they determined conditions there were unsafe, according to the complaint.

"Plaintiffs are informed and believe that no one from Contra Costa County Child Protective Services (CPS) or anyone else from the county (except for two visits described below) ever visited the Dutro house or met with any of the plaintiffs," the women say. "The county failed to have monthly face-to-face visits with Frances and Christina. The county failed to have supervised visits. The county failed to have any visits at all. (Parentheses in amended complaint.)

They claim that the Dutros' deep involvement in Calvary Open Bible Church, an evangelical church in Antioch, kept the abuse in the dark, leading to a miscarriage of justice and violations of California's mandatory reporter laws.

Stripes says she told a youth leader and two pastors, Wood and non-party Tim Zakarian, about the abuse while attending a church youth camp in August 1995.

"Rather than report this matter as required, Mark Wood immediately informed Zion Dutro and Glenda Lea Dutro about the allegations," the complaint states. "Next, Mark Wood informed a fellow church member and Antioch police officer Acosta about the abuse. Officer Acosta failed to follow his mandatory duty to disclose the abuse to CPS. Officer Acosta instead referred the case to Detective Barakos. Detective Barakos failed to follow his mandatory duty to disclose the abuse to CPS."

A week later, the Dutros allegedly went with Stripes and Wood to the Antioch Police Department for an interview with Officer Dee.

"Prior to conducting these interviews, Officer Dee was instructed not to arrest Zion Dutro by Detective Barakos," according to the complaint. "Both Glenda S. and Zion Dutro admitted to Officer Dee during their interviews that molestations had occurred. On Aug. 17, 1995, Detective Leroy Bloxsom called Zion Dutro to set up a second interview on Aug. 18, 1995 at the Antioch Police Department. During this second interview, Zion Dutro admitted to molesting Glenda S. six times. At the conclusion of the interview, Zion Dutro was let go and not arrested. Finally, Detective Leroy Bloxsom reported the molestations to Pamela Day, a CPS worker, on Aug. 18, 1995. This was the first CPS report made approximately 16 days after Glenda S. disclosed the abuse."

Neither Bloxsom nor Day is named in the lawsuit.

"Mark Wood did not report the full extent of the sexual abuse reported to him by Glenda S. and minimized the seriousness of the abuse being suffered by plaintiffs," the complaint states. "Mark Wood informed Zion Dutro of Glenda S.'s allegations, giving him an opportunity to prepare for interviews with investigators and to intimidate plaintiffs into denying the full extent of Zion Dutro's abuse. His actions were motivated by a desire to spare his parishioner a more serious punishment."

Informing the Dutros about Stripes' allegations before the interview, and interviewing Stripes in front of her abusers, "departed from mandatory reporting guidelines for reporting sexual abuse and basic standards of criminal investigation," the complaint states.

The women say "Officer Acosta's involvement in the church and Detective Barakos's order not to arrest Zion Dutro interfered with the investigation by the Antioch Police Department. Officer Acosta, Detective Barakos and Officer Dee's decision to not immediately report the known molestations to CPS interfered with the Antioch Police Department's investigation of this case and caused irreparable harm to plaintiffs."

The abuse allegedly became worse after the church and city failed to take action.

From the day Stripes told church pastors about the molestations until CPS finally arrived at the house 16 days later, the girls were "isolated, starved, tortured, sleep-deprived and beaten in order to brainwash plaintiffs to minimize and deny the abuse," according to the complaint.

"Plaintiffs were not allowed to talk to each other or to leave their rooms except to go to the bathroom once a day. They were allowed only small amounts of bread and water, and sometimes a small piece of bologna. They were not allowed to sleep more than very short periods of time; they were repeatedly told that they would be split up and never see each other again if they told the truth to CPS about the abuse they endured. They were told that the two oldest plaintiffs would be sent to juvenile hall and that the other plaintiffs would be sent to separate places and receive even worse abuse than from their parents. They were drilled with questions and mandatory answers in preparation for the CPS interviews, and beaten for wrong answers during preparation."

The visit from CPS agents was a failure as well, the women say.

"Plaintiffs were interviewed while Glenda Lea Dutro sat next to them holding their hand and squeezing their hand any time there was a question that could implicate Zion Dutro or Glenda Lea Dutro," the lawsuit states. "The interviews were conducted with Zion Dutro in the house in a position that the plaintiffs could see him watching them. Plaintiffs were terrified and believed from the brainwashing that had occurred that their fate would be even worse if they told the truth about what had occurred. Consequently they lied to CPS about the conduct of Zion Dutro and Glenda Lee Dutro.

"These interviews were conducted in a manner contrary to procedures set forth in regulations and DSS directives. Plaintiffs had very much wanted the opportunity to ask CPS what would happen to them if they had been abused and to find out if what their parents had told them was true. They never had that opportunity because none of the plaintiffs were ever alone with any CPS worker. Moreover, during the interviews Jack Rogers and Tom Potts treated Zion Dutro and Glenda Lea Dutro as the victims and blamed plaintiffs for making the accusations."

The sisters say CPS never returned to the Dutro home after that August 1995 visit.

Stipes' complaint allegedly led to Zion Dutro facing a sentence of probation, and registering as a sex offender, three months later after pleading guilty to child molestation, based on an "isolated fondling of one plaintiff."

The Dutros "successfully concealed through fear and intimidation as well as reckless conduct by the defendants the true abuse that had occurred, including forcible rape, sodomization [sic] and oral copulation," according to the complaint.

Once convicted, the Dutros abuse allegedly escalated.

Since Zion Dutro could not live in the house during the six-month probationary period, he and his wife moved into in a nearby apartment, pulled the girls out of school and kept them in the house unsupervised with little food, the lawsuit states.

"At night, Glenda Lea Dutro shuttled the plaintiffs one by one to the apartment where Zion Dutro furnished plaintiffs with alcohol and molested plaintiffs," according to the complaint.

Once again, the sisters say local government agencies failed to protect them from their parents. They claim that neither the probation department nor CPS made surprise inspections or conducted face-to-face visits as required by Dutro's plea.

"Had even a cursory visit been made to the house, the county would have likely discovered, at a minimum, that no adult was living at the house and the plaintiffs had minimal food," the complaint states. "Interviews of the plaintiffs without their parents present would have disclosed the extreme abuse resulting in, at a minimum, the removal the plaintiffs from the care and custody of Zion Dutro and Glenda Lea Dutro."

Furthermore, the women say Contra Costa "should never have allowed plaintiffs, particularly foster children or relative minors Frances and Christina, to stay with a convicted child molester."

They allegedly shared more about the torture they suffered at the hands of their parents over the years, to little avail.

In 2002, when the church was set to make Glenda Lea Dutro a youth adviser, Sara Dutro says she recounted the full history to Calvary pastor Anthony Lee. Lee allegedly responded: "Sins of her father do not reflect on sins of her mother."

Sara Dutro says also reported the abuse to the Antioch Police Department in 2003, but the officers still failed to make an arrest despite her videotaped interview.

Zion Dutro allegedly wanted to adopt several small children from Mexico in 2005, so Amber Dutro called Calvary's head pastor to demand intervention.

The pastor, who is not named as a defendant, told Amber that "God forgives and so should you," according to the complaint.

This same individual would tell an Antioch police detective years later that "everybody knew Zion was on Megan's Law," the women claim.

But the church took a different view when "Amber printed out 200 copies of Zion Dutro's Megan's Law registration information and distributed them to the congregation," the complaint states.

Calling the children's accusations "demonic attacks," Calvary pastors allegedly asked the congregation to pray over Zion Dutro because of the "evil cast over him by the Dutro children's lies and accusations."

The sisters say that they all suffer from severe psychological disorders because of the abuse they suffered at the hands of Zion and Glenda Lea Dutro. According to their complaint, they all exhibit signs of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, Stockholm syndrome, ulcers, panic attacks, vomiting, nausea, insomnia and migraines.

Since Glenda Lea Dutro could one day make parole, the women say they have made inquiries about legally changing their identities.

The sisters' litany of physical damages caused by Zion Dutro is equally harrowing.

"Plaintiffs were regularly battered by Zion Dutro resulting in severe physical injuries including, but not limited to stitches, sutures, broken bones, dislocated thumb, sprains, bruised spinal cord, laceration to head, internal bleeding, shooting pains in abdomen, chest and face injuries, abrasions to face, contusions and lacerations to lower pelvis area and excessive vaginal bleeding," according to the complaint.

The women seek punitive damages for civil rights violations and breach of duty. They are represented by Jason Runckel with O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley in Walnut Creek, Calif.

Contra Costa County, Rodgers and Potts are represented by Edrington, Schirmer & Murphy in Pleasant Hill, Calif.

Antioch is represented by Bertrand, Fox & Elliot.

Calvary, Wood and Lee are represented by Bowman & Berreth.


Ex-foster father gets life in prison for sexual abuse of children



Stay positive:  Students gain lasting self-confidence not by being protected from failure but by learning they can survive it. -- Tony Wagner, teacher and author
 
Ex-foster father gets life in prison for sexual abuse of children

By Ed Meyer

A former foster father was sentenced to life in prison without eligibility for parole for 35 years in a child-sex case involving five boys once under his care.

Roger H. Ball, 65, of Akron, was convicted of one count of rape, one count of sexual battery and five counts of gross sexual imposition in a Summit County jury trial in May.

He essentially will spend the rest of his life in prison.

He was sentenced Wednesday by Common Pleas Judge Tammy O’Brien, who called his crimes “truly horrific.”

“You systematically, and over an extended period of time, abused multiple children, at least some of whom had special needs. And instead of accepting responsibility for your actions, you have blamed the victims,” O’Brien told Ball.

“You concocted an elaborate conspiracy theory that supposedly occurred between children that never knew, or barely knew, each other. It was the children’s stories, however, and not your fabrications, that were believed by the jury in this case.”

Ball was given 10 years to life for rape and five years for each of the gross sexual imposition convictions.

O’Brien ordered those sentences to run consecutively, for a total of 35 years before Ball would be eligible to appear before the Ohio Parole Board.

After a lengthy investigation by Akron police detectives, Ball was arrested in March 2011. His offenses began in January 2007, according to details in his indictment.

Allegations surfaced in June 2010, when one child reported being fondled.

All of his victims were under the age of 13.

The rape victim was 11 years old, Summit Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh said.

Walsh escorted the mother of one of the victims, who stood at the bench and tearfully addressed the court before sentencing.

“I hope that every day you’re in a prison cell, you feel nothing but pain,” the woman said. “You, and only you, took away my baby’s innocence, his respect for himself, his dignity and his pride.

“The one thing you won’t take from us is his willingness to survive, to move on and get through this and live again.”

Ball made no comment to the judge or families of the victims, saying only that he intends to appeal his convictions.

Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or emeyer@thebeaconjournal.com.




Antipsychotic drug prescriptions high for Oklahoma foster children


Stay positive:  I think that how one lives is more important than how long one lives. So I don't feel too bad.  - A 32 Year old South Korean cancer victim  -- Lim Yoon-taek


Antipsychotic drug prescriptions high for Oklahoma foster children

Nearly 15 percent of Oklahoma foster children were on antipsychotic prescription drugs in 2007 — an increase of more than 48 percent in just five years.

BY RANDY ELLIS

Nearly 15 percent of Oklahoma foster children were on second-generation antipsychotic prescription drugs in 2007 — an increase of more than 48 percent in five years, according to a study released by PolicyLab at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Antipsychotic drugs are often prescribed to address disruptive behaviors in children.

Nationally, children in child welfare systems have been prescribed such drugs at two to three times the rate of other children in the community, the study says.

Excessive prescribing of antipsychotic drugs to foster children is a matter of national concern, because the drugs have significant side effects, said Dr. David Rubin, one of the study’s authors.

“The biggest issue with antipsychotics has been significant metabolic side effects — significant weight gain within a couple of months on kids who started on those medications,” he said. “It looks like some of those metabolic side effects are worse in children than they are in adults. Now there are concerns about developing some of the complications of obesity in terms of diabetes and hypertension and some of those types of complications.”

The drugs “really dull them,” he said. “We don’t have good data on the impact on learning.”

Data shows 14.8 percent of Oklahoma foster children were on antipsychotic prescription drugs in 2007, a rate significantly higher than the national average of 11.8 percent.

The study also revealed 6.2 percent of Oklahoma foster children were on three or more psychotropic medications at once in 2007, a rate higher than the national average of 5.3 percent.

Rubin said 2007 information was the most recent contained in the study because of the slowness with which some states have reported and the federal government has assembled data. Researchers hope to update the report with 2008 and 2009 data soon, he said.


Rubin cautioned against drawing too many conclusions from state-to-state comparisons.

If one state has a higher prescription rate than another, it might be because drugs are being overprescribed in the higher state in situations where many children would be better served by counseling therapy, he said.

On the other hand, the rate in the other state might just be low because officials aren’t getting children mental health treatment when they should, he said.

“I think the high rates that we’re seeing is really a symptom or the fact we’re not providing some of the other therapies, like evidence-based counseling therapies that are really rooted around trauma treatment,” he said. “At the end of the day, we label these kids with a lot of diagnoses, but what they share in common is a significant trauma history and significant relational failures. ... The best treatments we have for those are harder to fund in public systems.”

It’s sometimes easier and cheaper in the short term to prescribe antipsychotic medications in situations where intensive counseling might be of far greater assistance to the child, he said.

Focusing on Oklahoma data, Rubin said the high use of antipsychotic drugs indicates to him that the state “has a real problem.”

“I don’t see a lot of evidence here that they’ve been able to really get their hands around the problem,” he said.

On a more positive note, he said Oklahoma children seem to have access to mental health professionals.

Sheree Powell, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, said state officials are aware of the issue and have been working to address it.

Three state agencies — the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, DHS and the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services — joined forces earlier this year to submit a grant application to the Center for Health Care Strategies.

One goal they stated was to “increase communication and data sharing between the agencies responsible for the care and oversight” of children using psychotropic medications.

“This will help isolate the highest utilizers as well as the providers that are prescribing these medications,” the grant application said.

They said another goal was to provide intensive education on therapeutic non-drug alternatives and the risks of medications.

The application also discussed creating “health homes” for children with serious emotional disturbances, where children would have ready access to psychiatrists and pediatricians and where prescribing patterns could be carefully monitored.

Oklahoma’s grant application was rejected March 30, but the Center for Health Care Strategies said it still would try to provide Oklahoma and other rejected states with additional resources.